Horizon 2020

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Horizon 2020 is a funding programme created by the European Union/European Commission to support and foster research in the European Research Area (ERA). It is the eighth of the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, funding research, technological development, and innovation, with the focus on innovation, delivering economic growth faster and delivering solutions to end users that are often governmental agencies.

The programme's name has been modified to "Framework Programme for Research and Innovation".


The programme's objective is to complete the European Research Area (ERA) by coordinating national research policies and pooling research funding in some areas to avoid duplication. Horizon 2020 itself is seen as a policy instrument to implement other high-level policy initiatives of the European Union, such as Europe 2020 and Innovation Union.

Horizon 2020 is also implementing the European environmental research and innovation policy, which is aimed at defining and turning into reality a transformative agenda for greening the economy and the society as a whole so as to achieve truly sustainable development.

Horizon 2020 supports Open access to research results,[1] in order to create greater efficiency, improve transparency and accelerate innovation.[2]

Program management[edit]

The programme is implemented by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, either by various internal directorate generals (DGs), such as the directorate general for research and innovation (DG RTD) or the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology; or by executive agencies such as the Research Executive Agency (REA), the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), or the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA).

Duration and funding[edit]

The programme runs from 2014–2020 and provides an estimated €80 billion of funding,[3][4] an increase of 23 per cent on the previous phase.[5]


Horizon 2020 provides grants to research and innovation projects through open and competitive calls for proposals. Legal entities from any country are eligible to submit project proposals to these calls. Participation from outside the European Union is explicitly encouraged.[6] Participants from European Union member states and countries associated to Horizon 2020 are automatically funded. Associated countries have signed an association agreement for the purposes of this framework programme. As of May 2017, 16 countries were associated to Horizon 2020.[7] A central point of negotiation was funding to projects beyond the Green Line, the demarcation between Israel and its neighbors.


The programme consists of three main research areas that are called "pillars":

  • The first pillar, "Excellent Science", focuses on basic science. It has a budget of 24 billion euros. The European Research Council (ERC) delivers 13 billion euros to researchers and teams of researchers based on scientific excellence of the applications. This pillar funds Future and Emerging Technologies (FET, €2.7 billion) and researcher mobility (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA), €6.1 billion) and large European research infrastructures (€2.5 billion).
    • MSCA supports the career development and training of researchers at all stages of their careers. It is the main EU programme for doctoral training funding 25,000 PhDs during seven years. It co-funds national PhD programmes. Other MSCA funding targets research networks, fellowships for individual researchers, research staff exchanges and arrange "European Researchers' Night"-event annually on the last Friday of September.
  • The second pillar is "Industrial Leadership", with a budget of 14 billion euros. It is managed by DG Enterprise and based on Europe 2020 and Innovation Union strategies. The pillar consists of six sub-programmes within "Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies":
    • Information and communication technologies
    • Nanotechnologies
    • Advanced materials
    • Advanced manufacturing and processing
    • Biotechnology
    • Space
These technologies all have European technology platforms (ETP; fora for research communities to meet) with their respective strategic research agendas (SRA). Some technologies have long term funding instruments, such as joint technology initiatives (JTI). Some technologies are labelled key enabling technologies (KET).
This pillar contains special efforts to SME funding and gives also risk financing (2.8 billion euros) e.g. through loans of the European Investment Bank.
  • The third pillar funds potential solutions to social and economic problems, "Societal Challenges" (SC), in the following seven sub-programmes:
    • Health (€7.5 billion)
    • Food, water, forestry, bioeconomy (€3.8 billion)
    • Energy (€5.9 billion)
    • Transport (€6.3 billion)
    • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency, and raw materials (€3.1 billion)[8]
    • European society (€1.3 billion)
    • Security (€1.7 billion)
    • This pillar also funds themes names as "Science with and for society" (€0.5 billion) and "Spreading excellence and widening participation" (€0.8 billion).

The structure follows the previous framework programme (FP7, 2007–13) to the level of the sub-programmes under the pillars. In the industrial pillar the goal is to find ways to modernize European industries that have suffered from a fragmented European market. In societal challenges the goal is implementation of solutions, less on technology development.


External links[edit]